Audio Accessories Misc

Meridian F80 Compact System - Radio/CD/DVD Player

ARTICLE INDEX

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Introduction

You are about to discover what may be the best compact system in the world.

A couple of years ago, Meridian and Ferrari got together and decided to make something with both their names on it.

The result was a compact all in one system.  But wait, this is not just any old table top system. It has a powerful amplifier and sound that rivals bookshelf speakers. It also has a CD/DVD player.

Specifications

  • Design: Stereo Radio, CD/DVD Player, and iPod Dock
  • Radio: FM, AM, DAB, RDS
  • Inputs: Two Antenna, Optical, Stereo Analog (1/8")
  • Outputs: Optical, S-Video, Composite Video
  • Dimensions: 9" H x 15" W x 7" D
  • Weight: 15 Pounds
  • MSRP: $2,995 USA; i80 Universal iPod Dock $399
  • Meridian Audio

The Design

The F80 is designed and manufactured in the UK. The Ferrari co-brand essentially means that the colors are by Ferrari, so you can get it in Ferrari Red, Yellow, Black, or the Silver that I had for the review unit.

The front of the F80 has the Ferrari trademark horse just above the Meridian name. The co-branding is subtle and conservative.

Besides the colors and the logo, Ferrari has added their technical expertise in materials engineering to produce a chassis of unique alloy-injected composite material. It is a high mass, low resonance, mineral filled composite just like in the bodies of their world-renown automobiles.

There are three speakers in the F80. Two are for the stereo sound, and there is a single subwoofer (elliptical 6"x4"). Power to the three is 20/20/40 watts respectively.

Here is a photo of the Ferrari Red version, with the optional iPod dock.

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You can turn the system on by pressing a button at the top left or pushing the knob in on the far right.

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The rear panel has numerous inputs, including two antennae, optical in, analog in, and - yes - an iPod dock connector. This allows you to play music from your iPod, as controlled from the F80. For outputs, there are composite video, S-Video (remember I said it has a DVD player built-in), and optical out. A retractible rod antenna and wire antenna are included. You simply connect the one that you like. If on a table, then probably the retractible one. If on a shelf, then the wire.

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When powered on, you are greeted by green LEDs that tell you the status. In the case shown below, I had set the unit to play FM stations, and I had put several stations in the memory.

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Using the up arrow button, you can move to the input menu, shown below. You can select the radio or CD/DVD player.

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If you select Adjust, this takes you to a menu for changing various things, as shown below.

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Selecting Audio takes you to a menu from where you can adjust the amount of bass and the "Tilt", which is basically an EQ curve for changing the sound based on where you place it. Obviously, since it is an executive table top music system, you could be putting it on a shelf in front of a wall. Or, on the coffee table. The Tilt is for that purpose.

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The CD/DVD player has all the features you would expect from this type of product. The player loads via a thin slot at the bottom of the system. You can use the optical out for the DVD audio to be sent to your processor or receiver if you like. For CDs, the sound of the F80 is quite good, so there is no real need to use your receiver there. In fact, that is the whole point of the F80. It is a relatively small unit that produces a huge sound.

Here is the remote control. It is about the size and thickness of a book of matches.

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In Use

Well, I am not going to mince words, and this review is short because the bottom line is short. I think the F80 is the best single chassis compact system (Radio/CD/DVD Stereo Speakers) on earth. I have never heard a sound like this coming from such a (relatively) small enclosure.

Part of what makes the F80 sound so good is the bass tilt feature. I found this to be indispensible in getting a great sound no matter where I placed it.

Even when I cranked things up for room filling volume, the bass was tight and the treble was clean. No wonder the F80 is so heavy. There are a lot of massive components in there.

The DVD player functioned well too, but I really think consumers will purchase the F80 because of the radio, the CD player, the iPod dock feature, and the astonishing sound that emanates.

Conclusions

I really don't know what else to say here. The F80 is a very simple, very elegant, and fantastic way to play incredible sounding music from your favorite FM stations as well as CDs and iPod, all from an enclosure not much larger than a shoebox.